Trying to Find Monastery for Brief Personal Retreat
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Oct 4, 2012 2:43 AM Last Post By: Dendron
Oct 2, 2012 4:28 AM
Trying to Find Monastery for Brief Personal RetreatHi - I will be in Greece (and Turkey & Italy) in May/June 2013 and wish to schedule a 1-2 day retreat at a monastery. I had previously hoped to spend 4 days at the Mt. Athos preserve, but was persuaded the likelihood of entrance was tiny given that I am not Orthodox and I am traveling with my partner (only 10 non-Orthodox are admitted per day.) I would still like to have a similar monastic experience, though briefer is actually good. Does anyone know of a monastery that welcomes spiritual retreatants and perhaps offers lodging for the night? Ideally, I'd love for it to be an historic site in a beautiful location - ideally in Greece, but Italy would work too. In Greece, I will mostly be in Cyprus, Santorini and Mykanos, and the general Athens region. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!!
Oct 2, 2012 4:58 AM
1Cyprus is a different country.
Monastic retreats on Santorini and Mykonos ... not likely. I get the impression that, however sincere your motives are regarding the monastic aspect, you're not co-ordinating this interest very well with knowledge of where you're going.
There are a number of well-known monasteries scattered around Greece that can be visited, and most (I assume) have some historical significance/interest. The beautiful scenery part -- that's another matter. The ones I know of only have limited visiting hours for tourists on day trips. Casual overnighting isn't an option. Anyone with a more significant interest (and more time) would probably have to go through an application procedure, as with Mt Athos.
Oct 2, 2012 6:27 AM
2Thank you. The monastic experience is an intentional spiritual element woven into a 3-month sabbatical journey funded through a clergy renewal grant. I agree Mt. Athos would be ideal, and in fact it was a priority to get there, but due to several practical considerations I could not continue with that plan without assurance reasonably soon that I (with my male partner) would be admitted. So... I'm hoping for two days at a monastery, but I'm open to visiting a couple monasteries for one day each. I do know that in Italy there are some monasteries that do provide housing for travelers and was hoping I could find something similar in Greece. Preference is for a scenic location since the theme of my sabbatical is the intersection of beauty and spirituality.
Oct 2, 2012 7:31 AM
3Check this thread: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1425081
And also this link: http://bhamweekly.com/birmingham/article-2963-visit-to-the-greek-m.html
Oct 2, 2012 7:56 AM
4Ok, consider my opinion biased since I am not religious but there is hardly any "monastic" or "spiritual" experinece to be had among most Greek monasteries. My suggestion would be to visit Agiofaraggo in Crete and spend a few days camping and "just be" among the caves.
I am offering this based on your search for "the intersection of beauty and spirituality"
Research it: Agiofaraggo or Agiofarago Αγιογάραγγο In greek. Thats in Crete. The name means Saint's Gorge.
An alternative would be Meteora in Central Greece.
Not sure exactly what youa re looking for, but these two suggestions might give you an alternative persepctive...
Oct 2, 2012 2:04 PM
5I have a blurry memory of an old distant uncle sometimes to over-night in Osios Loukas and I am pretty sure he did mention once that visitors were welcomed and I think he had mention an English-man staying there a week or so. This was a good 15-20 years ago though. That said, it seems that this monastery is keeping up well with modern technology, judging by their web-site. So why not try to e-mail them?
Oct 3, 2012 11:26 AM
6Concerning mt.Athos, have you followed the requested procedure ie, to call the pilgrims office and ask for an available date? They will be able to tell you immediately through their computer booking system the dates that vacant entry permits are available so that you can schedule your visit.
Have a look at the procedure required for foreign visitors here:
You can reserve an entry permit up to six months in advance, so if you make that call now, I think that you will be able to easily secure a place..
Once you do that, even if the date is not the one that suits you, inform the secretary of the pilgrims office about a better suited date, and should any change or cancellation occurs -which frequently happens- they will move you to an other date..
It is a bit of insane bureaucratic procedure involved, but once you manage to enter Athos, it will be a great experience. Many monasteries have native english speaker monks, tending to foreign visitors.
Oct 4, 2012 2:43 AM
7" . . . but there is hardly any 'monastic' or 'spiritual' experinece to be had among most Greek monasteries."
Perhaps this is true in some places, but it's not the case at Mt. Athos. A visit there can be a very spiritual experience, bearing in mind that the visit is ultimately what you yourself make of it.
But yes, discretion would be important and I'd think that while on Athos you'd want to travel as a couple of good friends, not as if you were, say, a married couple. If that makes you uncomfortable, then passing Athos by might in fact be the better idea.
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